Effects of interaural time delays of noise stimuli on low-frequency cells in the cat's inferior colliculus. I. Responses to wideband noise

J Neurophysiol. 1986 Feb;55(2):280-300. doi: 10.1152/jn.1986.55.2.280.


We examined the responses of low-frequency neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (ICC) of the cat to interaurally delayed, wideband noise stimuli. The stimuli were pseudorandom noise signals that were generated digitally with a nominal bandwidth of 60-4,000 Hz. We also compared the responses to noise with those obtained from interaural phase differences of pure tones. We studied 144 neurons with characteristic frequencies below 2.5 kHz. Eighty-five percent (85%) of these were sensitive to changes in both interaural time differences (ITDs) of noise and interaural phase differences of pure tones, only 2% were sensitive to one stimulus but not the other, and the remainder were insensitive to both stimuli. For most cells the discharge rate was modulated in an approximately cyclic fashion by changes in ITDs of the wideband noise stimuli. The maximal spike counts often occurred near zero ITD, and there was considerable variability in the nature of the cycling, though it usually disappeared for ITDs greater than +/- 4,000 microseconds. The position of the central peak was usually (65%) within the physiologically relevant range of +/- 400 microseconds, and most (80%) occurred at positive ITDs, which corresponded to delays to the ipsilateral stimulus. In general, the shapes of the responses were not affected by changes in stimulus level above threshold. As long as identical noises were delivered to both ears, the responses were not sensitive to the particular noise stimulus used. When uncorrelated noises were delivered to the two ears, there was no sensitivity to ITDs. Composite curves were computed by linear summation of the responses to ITDs of pure tones at frequencies spaced at equal intervals throughout each cell's response area. The shapes of composite curves were similar to the responses of the same cell to ITDs of wideband noise stimuli. The positions of the central peaks of these two functions were highly correlated (r = 0.91, slope = 0.97). The values of characteristic delay and characteristic phase computed from the tonal responses were found to be good indicators of the shapes of the noise delay curves. Characteristic phases (CPs) near zero were associated with noise delay curves symmetric about the central peak, CPs near 0.5 cycles with those symmetric about the trough, while CPs between 0 and 0.5 or between 0.5 and 1.0 had noise delay curves that were asymmetric with a prominent trough to the left or right, respectively, of the central peak.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Birds
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Dichotic Listening Tests
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Noise
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Psychoacoustics*
  • Time Factors